The Bowling Green Hot Rods (67-30) fell short 5-4 in the series-opening game against the Rome Braves on Tuesday at Bowling Green Ballpark. 

The Braves (45-53) struck first, scoring a run on a Cody Milligan sacrifice fly in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead.

The Hot Rods (67-30) answered back in the bottom of the fourth against Rome starter Jake McSteen. Curtis Mead singled with one out and came in to score on a Jordan Qsar double, tying the game 1-1. Grant Witherspoon came up in the next at-bat and singled Qsar home to take the lead, 2-1.

Bowling Green kept the pressure on in the fifth inning with McSteen still on the mound. With one out, Pedro Martinez doubled, extending his hit streak to seven games. Alika Williams collected his first Hot Rods hit, driving in Martinez with a double and expanding the Bowling Green lead to 3-1.

The Hot Rods added another run in the sixth against Braves reliever Marrick Crouse. Evan Edwards led off the inning with a double and Witherspoon followed with a walk. Hill Alexander singled to right, plating Edwards and increasing the Hot Rods' edge to 4-1.

Rome charged back in the top of the seventh with two runs. Luke Waddell and Rusber Estrada both hit solo homers, bringing the Braves within one run, 4-3.

In the top of the eighth, Michael Harris launched a solo home run to tie the game 4-4. An inning later, Waddell hit his second homer of the game, giving the Braves a 5-4 lead.

Bowling Green couldn’t create any more offense, falling to the Braves 5-4.

Taj Bradley hurled five innings, allowing one run on three hits while walking one and striking out one in a no-decision. Michael Costanzo tossed two innings, giving up two runs on three hits and walking one while earning a hold. Ezequiel Zabaleta (5-4) hurled two innings, surrendering two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out two in his fourth loss of the season.

The Hot Rods and Braves play the second game of a six-game series on Wednesday with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch. The Hot Rods will start left-hander John Doxakis (5-1, 4.93) against Rome righty Tanner Gordon (0-3, 4.88).